Reykjavik’s wild street art

After a residency in Iceland's capital, an artist reflects on the graffiti and paintings covering the city's walls

Topics: Hyperallergic, Reykjavik, graffiti, Painting, Art, Iceland, Europe, European Union,

Reykjavik's wild street artFirst spectacular bird sighting of the day. (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)
This article originally appeared on Hyperallergic.

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — While in Iceland for an artist residency for the month of August, my first stop was two nights in Reykjavik, the small country’s capital.

Hyperallergic

Although Reykjavik is by far Iceland’s biggest city, with a population of 200,000 within the greater metropolitan area, I wasn’t expecting much more than a beautiful, quiet little town. However, as I was walking to my hostel in the downtown area, the graffiti and street art quickly caught my eye.

The outdoor seating at my youth hostel.

The outdoor seating at my youth hostel.

It seemed that down every other alley, in every little hallway and behind every store there was some quality street art to be found. I definitely wanted to see the touristy things like Hallgrímskirkja, meet Bjork and walk the quaint streets, but I had a new mission; find as much street art as I could. The following images are some of the most colorful, magical and exotic creatures I saw on the back walls of Reykjavik.

A fierce looking elephant in a parking lot.

A fierce looking elephant in a parking lot.

Giant mural, "Just look at how the mountains so very mighty be sharp as razors at the top they span the land + sea but don't forget that though majestic spires, capped in snow... From each and every grain of sand is how they grow"

Giant mural.

This giant mural reads, “Just look at how the mountains so very mighty be sharp as razors at the top they span the land + sea but don’t forget that though majestic spires, capped in snow … From each and every grain of sand is how they grow.” And was behind a little store for a young design collective and a lovely cafe/bar with live music at night. On the top of the mural you see that they hung thousands of large sequin-like objects to make snow, and as the wind caught them the snow would ripple beautifully.



The biggest and trippiest magic mushroom graffiti.

The biggest and trippiest magic-mushroom graffiti. Those are trash bins under it.

Monkey and aliens.

Monkey and aliens, as well as signs of street artists London Police and Above.

Good dog.

Kool Kids. Cool dog.

Young break dancer at the center of Reykjavik Graffiti scene.

Young break dancer at the center of Reykjavik graffiti scene.

Pictured above is the center of the Reykjavik graffiti scene. Between Laugavegur, Hverfisgata, Klapparstigur and Smidjustigur streets in downtown Reykjavik this is my new favorite public space in the world. Every evening (although it is bright out this shot was taken around 11pm) kids of all ages would come. A DJ usually set up, older kids usually drank and smoked pot, some young kids danced to the music and played with chalk, some talked and some were digging some sort of skate ramp. It felt like a fun, open and artistic place truly for the youth of Reykjavik. Even while I was in town for two days some of the graffiti had changed. The following images are all from this park.

My first wild animal sighting in Reykjavik.

My first wild animal sighting in Reykjavik.

City with a giant robot.

City with a giant robot that looks like Bender from the animated TV series Futurama.

Seal under construction.

Seal under construction.

Monkeys, ostrich, dinosaur and kid.

Monkeys, ostrich, dinosaur and devilish looking child.

 

Hailing from Indiana, Ben Valentine moved to Brooklyn a year and a half ago. Now working for Tara Donovan and Allan McCollum, interning for Creative Time and Hyperallergic, Ben has immersed himself in the contemporary art world. Ben is interested in public art, the Internet's potential and in learning how to write and think about art without becoming a snob.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>